To start this off, I’d like to note that I’m just a mom. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but these are the things that I think are important to look into. As with everything, you can’t blindly follow anyone for you or your child’s well being.
It’s up to you as the parent to look into everything for yourself and make the decisions that are best for you and your family. That said, here is some information that I have found to be important to know, but not generally presented as normal. If you don’t agree, don’t worry, we can still be friends ~grin~
There’s even more that I wanted to cover, but I don’t think I’m going to have time. So here’s what I was able to get down while my toddler was napping and 9 month old was nursing
I was surprised what a difference a good prenatal vitamin made for me. I tried using Walmart prenatals with my first (ack!) but used a good quality whole foods one with my second and it made a huge difference. Read about it here.
Please be informed about standard prenatal care. Knowing what mainstream doctors do ahead of time is important so you can make informed decisions, not just be railroaded into what is ‘normal’. Here is a timeline. Before I was pregnant, when I was researching what I wanted to do as far as prenatal visits go, I methodically went line by line down what was ‘normally’ done in America. And I became educated on what I wanted to skip (like the quad screen and amnio), what I could do myself (blood pressure, urine dips if necessary, fetal heart rate), and what I would need to be on the watch for (including, but not limited to, signs of preeclampsia, baby movement, growth).
I ended up doing it all myself, but I wouldn’t hesitate to seek help if something out of the range of normal presented itself. Because I was educated on what was normal and what wasn’t, I was at peace and didn’t have to wonder what was going on with my body and depend on a doctor to tell me what was up.
I check my own cervix for dilation out of curiosity, check fundal height, monitor blood pressure, baby’s heart rate… It’s all easy enough to learn to do on your own and it’s nice and reassuring to be able to check it when you want, especially with the fetal heart rate- no more panic attacks if the baby hasn’t moved in a couple hours. We use a fetoscope, though I did borrow a doppler to use during my second birth since it’s hard to pay attention to the fetoscope when in the middle of labor.
Are you RH-? Don’t just blindly take the RhoGAM shot when recommended. The Healthy Home Economist looks at the pros and cons of the RhoGAM shot during and after pregnancy. I personally choose to avoid the pregnancy shot, and get my titers checked AFTER my baby was born. A doctor my naturopath works with for RH issues said that’s how he determines whether the mother needs the RhoGAM, whether there are antibodies in her system 2-3 days after birth. Though both my children are RH +, I haven’t needed the RhoGAM either time. I do check my titers for RH sensitivity once I’m fertile again, so that should I be sensitized my care provider and I can carefully monitor the pregnancy, as RH sensitization is a serious pregnancy complication. And I would encourage you to look at he ‘studies’ surrounding this shot- they are not good studies at all; The ‘studies’ the doctors get their recommendations from were done on women prison inmates quite a few years ago, and are certainly not the randomized placebo-controlled studies that we would expect from so-called evidence based medicine that our modern doctors are supposed to be practicing. But then, there aren’t many healthy women who would volunteer to have a human blood product (that’s what RhoGAM is) injected into them just for the sake of a study. Unfortunately, due to the lack of information about this, this shot is grossly over administered to our vulnerable pregnant population.
Risks associated with a hospital birth Unfortunately, many moms don’t know what they don’t know about hospital policies and how they can actually harm mothers and babies. If you’re set on a hospital birth, please read and be informed. And have someone else (a doula maybe?) equally informed about your wishes, to help you have the safest experience possible. I’m not completely against hospital births, I just want moms to be aware that there is a lot of bureaucracy in hospital birthing, and there is lots that they will say is a hospital rule that isn’t best for you or the baby.
Though many hospitals don’t allow it (due to a very minute risk of aspiration during an emergency c-section), eating during labor is very important for a laboring mom and I believe the benefits highly outweigh the risks. I keep honey on hand in with my birth supplies and force myself to eat some every hour, even if I don’t want to. Childbirth Today goes over the evidence here.
Many first time mothers have long labors- over 24 hours isn’t uncommon. How does this affect baby? Check out this 18-year study.
Science and Sensibility covers many more issues that are pertinent to healthy pregnancy and birth
Childbirth Today again goes over the evidence that indicates that an upright position is best to labor in. Using gravity to help bring the baby down is best for mom, best for baby. While many hospitals claim that they allow laboring in all positions, mandatory fetal monitoring and IVs do not make it easy to do so.
A discussion on meconium in the amniotic fluid, and how important the compression of contractions is for preventing aspiration.
Enjoy Birth has a great article about the dangers of routine hospital procedures like IVs, fetal monitoring, and routine induction. I learned in my research that so many routine hospital procedures are based on outdated information and are not evidence based.
When we were researching our birthing options, I was surprised to find that I think that unlicensed midwives are better for what I need than licensed ones. With the licensing comes state control of your birth, so if whoever gives out the licenses has outdated information, the midwife is obligated to follow those rules rather than what the need of the mother and child is.
Questions to ask your care provider. Suppose you’re not totally sold on the whole homebirth/midwife thing yet. I would encourage you to ask your care provider (hospital midwife, doctor, or certified nurse midwife) an extensive list of questions, all that are very applicable to a safe birth. Then, I would encourage you to call a local homebirth midwife in your area (or a few- start with the one who sounds the best to you over the phone when you ask about a consultation) and ask the same questions. Most, if not all, homebirth midwives give free consultations, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Patricia Carter is considered the “Pioneer of Unassisted Childbirth.” Read through her birth stories and see what she has to say about having a safe and pain-free birth in Come Gently Sweet Lucina, a downloadable book.
What about the Vitamin K Shot? Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. In the hospital, it is one of the first things given to the baby. Because my children were born naturally, gently, and I didn’t circumcise, I didn’t do vitamin K, If you have a boy and you want to circumcise, you can wait until day 8 when the levels of vit K are naturally the highest they will be in the baby’s whole life (how cool is that?!). I would have gotten my children the injection if there had been significant bruising with birth, but if the baby isn’t bruised your baby should be just fine. I tend to think that maybe babies were born with low vit K for a reason, so I don’t mess with it :) For the injection in the case of bruising, if it makes you feel better you could have it on hand, but i was comfortable with transferring if I thought they needed it. More info on the Vitamin K Shot from The Healthy Home Economist.
How lifestyle choices influence milk supply: Warning, it’s politically incorrect.
Our interview here with Jess from Breastfeeding Basics. She talks about challenges that new mothers face, especially ones specific to our modern culture.
An interesting article, The Language of Breastfeeding, I came across a while back about how to change your language to indicate that breastfeeding is normal rather than subtly indicate that artificial human milk replacement is normal.
Wondering about iron deficiency in your breast fed baby? The Nourished Kitchen has a post on it. For us, we just watch for external signs of iron deficiency (paleness, lethargy) and our doctor is comfortable with that. We don’t do any blood draws to test.
Kellymom is a great resource to quickly check if a medication or herb is okay for breastfeeding, and for different breastfeeding problems and solutions.
Mastitis is an infection that occurs occasionally during breastfeeding. I got it for the first time with my second baby, when he was 8 months old. Here’s the research on natural treatments for mastitis that I did.
If breastfeeding didn’t work for one reason of another (I believe this happens in 1/10 mothers, so it’s fairly common to need to supplement) Homemade Baby Formula is a nutritious choice where you can control the quality of the ingredients, sourcing grassfed milk and other high quality ingredients. Formula companies are standardized by law, but they are allowed to use things such as corn syrup to meet the calorie requirements. Homemade formula is a way to give your baby a great start in life, and can also be used for toddlers that aren’t quite getting the nutrition they need from food. If you’re squeamish about raw milk and your little baby, you can slowly heat raw milk on the stove and then cool. It’s the rapid temperature change of industrial pasteurization that causes the protein structure to change, making the milk have different properties than God intended to to have. Heating on the stove does kill the natural antibodies and enzymes present in the milk, but it doesn’t change the protein structure so stove-heated raw milk from cows or goats fed fresh grass and supplemented with non-GMO feed is much preferable to pasteurized milk from the store.
Mothers that need to supplement (or even those who are adoptive breastfeeding) can use a supplemental nursing system to stimulate their own milk production as they nurse their babies with the help of a supplement. I’ve talked to mothers who have not produced milk past 6 weeks with prior babies, who with the help of a supplemental nursing system (SNS) have been able to continue the nursing relationship into the toddler years. It’s the nipple stimulation that signals our breasts to continue to make milk, so even if supply is very low, using a SNS to supplement allows the breasts to continue to make milk. Even if baby is only getting one ounce during a feeding, the ounce of breast milk is perfectly full of antibodies and nutrients designed for this baby. Some mothers who have previously had to discontinue nursing at 6 weeks or so, have been able to increase their production so much with the use of a SNS that they are able to breastfeed during the night wakings without help of a supplement, which greatly simplifies night feedings! (in most women milk production is highest in the very early morning hours before waking)
Natural MattressesThey may seen out of your price range, but really try to re-think that if at all possible. Important for everyone in the house.
Car Seat information- We choose to keep our children rear-facing as long as possible, then we’ll keep them in 5-point harnesses as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child’s back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash. There is research to suggest that a child forward facing is 5 times more likely to die in an auto accident than a child rear facing. Please check out the Kyle David Miller Foundation’s web page, it has really great information about how to protect your child in the car. At the least, just know that ‘legal’ doesn’t mean safe. Just because it’s legal to turn your child forward facing at 12 months/20 lbs does not mean that’s the safest option for your child.
Introducing solids- this is how we introduce solids, we do it really slowly. Please keep in mind also, though, that I produce enough milk easily to do this, and my children thrive on it for 12 months. This might not be best for all families
A Vaccination disclaimer for your doctor to fill out, I highly doubt they ever would. I’d love to go more into vaccinations, but I think that might take an entire year. Again, please just be informed of the real risks of the vaccines, as well as risks of the diseases, how common the diseases are, and how they are *really* spread (ie tetanus isn’t spread by rusty nails, it’s in cattle manure. And the tetanus vaccine is one of the most toxic ones). To research vaccines, I started by looking each disease up on the CDC website, and was alarmed to find out that they aren’t as deadly as we’ve been conditioned to believe. I actually started researching vaccines attempting to write a paper statistically (with statistics, not just people’s opinions) proving that vaccines were necessary. I couldn’t do it.
We chose not to circumcise. If you thought this was a given and that everyone did it, please visit nocirc.org just to be informed. I fully support circumcision for religious reasons, but even then, how Jesus was likely circumcised as a Jew on the 8th day was much different than the modern routine circumcision done by doctors after birth. A video of modern medical circumcision– not happening for my baby.
And, I’ve found that I need to educate everyone who might change my son’s diaper on how to care for an intact boy. You don’t want to retract! And many many people think that you have to. And please be informed! Circumcision causes more deaths than choking does in the entire 0-10 age group on a yearly basis.
Cloth diapering: Green Mountain Diapers is my favorite cloth diapering website. Their prefolds are nice and thick, and the whole website is very informative. I used PUL covers with my daughter, but my son is sensitive to any kind of synthetic, so we use wool soakers over prefolds for him.
Unexpected causes of diaper rash: Diaper rashes aren’t always from not being changed often enough, sometimes kids are sensitive to the diapers themselves.
Sam had baby eczema when he was little, and still gets it at 9 months if I have too much dairy in my diet. Here’s what we did to eliminate his baby eczema quickly and without steroids.
Babywearing: I use a pouch sling for easy in-out of lighter babies, in the cradle hold as newborns and on my hip when they get older and can sit upright. The Ergo on my back, it’s super comfortable, and the mei tai on my front to nurse in or on my back for them to sleep in. My baby likes the mei tai the best, it must be most comfortable. I made it so it comes up high enough to support his head when he falls asleep.
Have a link that applies? Leave me a comment and I’ll put it up!
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